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Three Different Online Shopping Experiences — How to Get It Right for You and the Customer

Holly Cardew
6 min readMar 8, 2018


Going to the shops can be great; I like being able to touch and feel a product before I buy it. But walking through a crowded area, going from shop to shop not finding what you want, can be stressful. Worse still, you end up finally buying something, only to find it cheaper in the store next door….and let’s not talk about how much money could have saved buying it online!

Online shopping is quick and convenient. You can shop a wide selection of shops around the world simultaneously to find the perfect item at the right price. Best of all, the item is sometimes delivered for free — no more carrying heavy bags around town!

As a retailer, now is a great time to be in eCommerce. Forrester predicts that eCommerce will make up 17% of all US retail sales by 2022, up from a projected 12.9% in 2017. This means there is a huge opportunity for growth!

But, competition for online customers can be tough. Pipecandy estimates that there are roughly 1.3 million eCommerce retailers in the US alone, but numbers vary wildly. And you are not only up against small niche enterprises; it is predicted that Amazon will account for 50% of all online sales in the US by 2021.

So, how do you stand out? What can you do to attract and retain online customers?

Creating a great online shopping experience is vital

Customers are growing increasingly frustrated with the online shopping experience.

In a 12 market global survey, 47% of consumers reported issues with their online shopping experience during the 2016 holiday shopping season, higher than the previous year. Nearly 80% of UK consumers would switch online retailers if they had a negative experience.

Here are some lessons that retailers can learn from some of my good, bad and ugly online shopping experiences.

Experience one: Inconsistent product descriptions at Premium Foods

Online shopping is great to find that one item you have been looking for forever. But you can be let down by mismatching product descriptions and images.

This year, I had a very specific product in mind for my boyfriend’s Christmas gift. He had been talking about this product for a year and I wanted to impress him by getting the exact thing he wanted.

I had a photo of the exact make and model that he wanted, but I didn’t know which store would have it. So, two weeks before Christmas, I went online to find it rather than wasting a lot of time walking from store to store without guarantee of finding it.

After some time searching, I found something similar to what I had been looking for. The problem was that there was a labelling mismatch: the product image was different to the product description, and the headline description also did not match.

But I took the gamble and ordered it.

Unfortunately, the problems continued after I placed the order. I did not receive any shipping order updates, so I didn’t know if it would arrive in two days or two weeks. It was incredibly frustrating, not least because it was a Christmas gift and I didn’t know if it was going to be delivered on time! There was a tracking number, but it linked out.

I was completely let down by the whole experience. Statistics show that consumers choose websites with enhanced delivery options, and lose trust in the retailer when delivery expectations are not met.

LESSON: Always keep consumers in the loop with order information! Why? Because it will save you time replying to possibly hundreds of customer requests when they email to ask where their package is!

When the item arrived, it was different to what I had expected. The label on the packaging was different to the title on the product page. This made me incredibly frustrated as a customer.

What were my options? Should I email and get a refund, and explain to my boyfriend why I do not have a Christmas gift for him this year, or do I accept what has happened and give the item to my boyfriend even though it is not what he wanted?

LESSON: Keep images, titles and descriptions consistent. If a customer is confused by what you are selling, they may not make a purchase. Those that do buy the item will not return to your business if the item is different to what they expected! Either way, you lose money.

Experience two: Misinformation at Camilla

On Cyber Monday, I bought some items from Camilla’s online store. But after I signed up for an account, my password appeared in the registration email.

When I wrote to customer service who told me that the password was automatically generated. Except it wasn’t. It was a password that I used for several different websites. To protect myself from hacking, I had to go through my online accounts change the password as some had access to my email.

In the KPMG International survey, 63% of consumers said that protecting their data and information was vital to earn their trust.

LESSON: Change this policy! This is how things get hacked!

When the items I ordered arrived, one was faulty, the other was too big. The website’s return policy said that I could refund purchases in the store. When I got to the store, they informed me that they could send the item back, but not refund my money.

It is 2017 — you should be omni-channel. I should be able to return an item in the way that suits me best, either using a return package label in the post or in store.

Easy returns policies is one of the key benefits for online shoppers, according to a KPMG International survey.

After some negotiating — which I should not have had to go through — I managed to get a refund for the faulty item, but not for the item that didn’t fit. Instead, I got a credit note. Their explanation was because it was on sale before Cyber Monday, so they could not give me a refund. Yet, it stated on their website, “Cyber Monday is not considered a sale but rather an event so you can return your items.”

There was no mention that items which were previously on sale were excluded in this return policy. In any case, how was I supposed to know about it being on sale at an earlier date? There was no information.

The worst part of the whole experience? The credit note is only valid for their online store, not instore.

LESSON: Be upfront with your customers or you risk leaving them confused, frustrated and ultimately lose them.

Experience three: good customer experience at The Iconic

I bought a Christmas gift on The Iconic. I was quite happy with the experience overall; the purchase was simple to carry out, and they said the item would arrive the next day.

It arrived a day later but I wasn’t irritated. Why? Because they sent me updates throughout the entire shipping process. I knew when it was packaged and when it was shipped, and I could track exactly where it was. Best of all, shipping was free!

I know that they have a bigger budget than smaller online retailers, but transparency with your customers doesn’t cost anything.

LESSON: Keep customers happy by keeping them informed.

Getting the formula right

People shop online because it is convenient: if you make it difficult, they will find somewhere else to spend their money. Keeping the customer up-to-date and informed is a simple way to creating a great online shopping experience for your customers, and keep them returning to your store!

I would love to hear about your online shopping experiences and then be able to share them with eCommerce businesses 💳🛍️📦👟👖👠👜💸



Holly Cardew

Building solutions for the next generation of shopping